Seahawks center Max Unger, tackle Breno Giacomini doubtful for Sunday
The Seahawks’ injury issues on the offensive line have gone from bad to worse, with Max Unger and Breno Giacomini each called “game-day” decisions Sunday by coach Pete Carroll.
Seattle Times staff reporter
RENTON – Potentially having to face one of the best defenses in the NFL without 60 percent of his starting offensive line might seem a test of the optimism of Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.
Carroll, though, betrayed no signs of worry Friday, even as it became more likely that Seattle’s offensive front could not only be without left tackle Russell Okung but also All-Pro center Max Unger and starting right tackle Breno Giacomini.
Okung is out at least seven more weeks with a toe injury while Unger (triceps) and Giacomini (knee) were each listed as doubtful for Sunday’s 10 a.m. game at Houston.
Carroll said Unger and Giacomini will be “game-day’’ decisions.
If Unger and Giacomini can’t play, though, Seattle will play with a line featuring just one starter at the position where he began the season — right guard J.R. Sweezy.
Paul McQuistan has moved from left guard to left tackle to replace Okung, replaced by James Carpenter, while Lemuel Jeanpierre would step in for Unger if necessary and rookie Michael Bowie for Giacomini.
“Our guys are ready to play ball if they are called on to do so,’’ Carroll said. “It won’t be the story about the guys that aren’t playing (but) those guys stepping up and doing their thing. It might be the young guys. If it is, it is. Then we are going to crank it up and go.’’
The Seahawks could have picked a more sympathetic foe against which to debut a remodeled offensive line, though, as the Texans rank second in the NFL in total defense and feature the reigning defensive player of the year, defensive end J.J. Watt. And under defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, the Texans bring as much pressure as any team in the league, rushing at least one extra defender roughly 80 percent of the time, according to Seahawks coaches.
“As much pressure as they bring, the protection is paramount this week,’’ Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said earlier this week.
Unger and Giacomini were injured in Seattle’s 45-17 win over Jacksonville. Unger, though, came back to finish the game after suffering the triceps injury, and was listed as having limited participation in practice this week. Carroll said the Seahawks would be careful with Unger to ensure he would not be at risk of suffering a longer-term injury.
His replacement, Jeanpierre, has been with the Seahawks since 2010 but has started just once at center, a 6-3 loss at Cleveland in 2011 when Unger was out. Jeanpierre also started four games at right guard in 2011 but otherwise has played sparingly.
“Lem’s ready to go,” Carroll said. “He has played in games before for us. We know that he knows how to make all the calls and he has been with us a long time, so we are very confident in Lem’s work.”
Bowie, meanwhile, has drawn raves from Seattle coaches since the day he arrived last May after being taken in the seventh round of the 2013 draft. He saw his first action last week, getting 30 snaps in mop-up duty.
Receiver Golden Tate was fined $21,000 Friday for a block that laid out Jacksonville safety Dwight Lowery early in Sunday’s game, forcing Lowery to leave with a concussion. The NFL ruled that Tate struck a defenseless player in the head/neck area.
Carroll called the ruling “very unfortunate. It was a really good block and it was unfortunate for the kid that he was in position to get hit so hard, but the intent was to lay a block. That (injury) just happened to occur in the heat of the moment. ... It’s really hard for these guys to play really hard-nosed, tough football and be right all the time. They are trying to do the right thing and the league sees it the other way sometimes, so unfortunately that’s the way they ruled on it.’’
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org